There are the “covid-19 long haulers,” and then there is Mike Curtis.
Since March 19 — barely a week after the coronavirus was declared a pandemic — the Saginaw, Mich., man battled covid-19 in the hospital, dealing with almost too many virus-related complications to list.
Seizures. Sepsis. Paralysis. A collapsed lung. Myopathy.
After a grueling medical odyssey that spanned three hospitals and more than six months, the 44-year-old was finally released last week, emerging to a world that has been irreparably changed.
“John has done fantastic, but he’s really been through a lot,” Ralph Wang, a doctor at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, told WOOD, an NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids.
His wife, Debi, told the TV station that Curtis had been perfectly healthy in early March, doing the family’s grocery shopping and going to his job as a sander at a glass company.
Then, he “just woke up one day and had a temperature of 104 and fainted a couple of times,” she said, “and that was it.” He was rushed to seek medical attention, and she rarely left his side in the 195 days that followed.
Doctors and scientists are still unsure why some patients, like Curtis, face debilitating symptoms long after they first got sick, and some researchers are warning that the virus could leave some patients with disabling lifelong problems.
Wang said that covid-19 directly caused about half the issues Curtis faced in the hospital, prolonging his time hooked up to a ventilator and contributing to seizures and brain damage. Although Curtis must now move with a walker, doctors told WOOD that he would be able to make a full recovery within about six months.
But Debi, who will celebrate her 13th wedding anniversary with him next month, said it makes no difference.
“Who knows if it will ever get better,” she said. “I’m not going to take John for granted anymore.”